What could a 'No Deal’ Brexit mean for Travelling to the European Union with Your Pet?

 

With the recent upturn in the weather here in the UK many of you may have started thinking about your summer holidays, and some of you might even be considering taking your furry friends along. However, with the final decision on Brexit looming on the 29th of March, there could be some changes to the requirements when travelling to the EU with your pet. Here we will talk about what these changes could entail, in the case of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

 

The Current Situation

Currently, in the UK, the movement of small pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) comes under EU Regulation No. 576/2013, also known as the Pet Travel Scheme (or ‘PETS’). This scheme states that before a pet can travel from the UK to an EU country it must:

  • Be microchipped before its rabies vaccination.
  • Be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel (and be at least 12 weeks old before receiving the rabies vaccination).
  • Have a valid EU Pet Passport.
  • Travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.
  • Moreover, dogs entering the UK, Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta must be treated for tapeworms by a vet with a product containing Praziquantel (or equivalent) no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (so 1 to 5 days) before arriving in the UK.

 

However, dependent on the outcome of Brexit negotiations the UK could end up leaving the EU in a ‘No Deal’ scenario, and so could become a ‘third country’ in relation to the Pet Travel Scheme. In practice, this would likely mean that pets continue being allowed to travel from the UK to the EU, but that extra documentation and health checks would be required.

The extent of these extra requirements would depend on how the UK is categorised by the European Commission, with three different categories possible:

  • Listed: Part 1
  • Listed: Part 2
  • Unlisted

Listed: Part 1

A very small number of countries and territories are granted Part 1 status, which effectively means that they operate under the Pet Travel Scheme rules as EU member states (i.e. nothing would change).

 

Listed: Part 2

Most non-EU countries are listed under Part 2, which stipulates additional conditions including the use of temporary health certificates for pets moving from Part 2 countries into the EU. This would mean some extra paperwork for pet owners, but hopefully only minor inconvenience.

 

Unlisted

If we leave the EU on the 29th of March the UK would likely apply for Listed status, and it seems likely that we would be granted this status in some form or another, placing us in either of the two categories mentioned above. However, it is possible that we may not be permitted to make this application until the UK officially becomes a ‘third country’ (i.e. until after we leave on the 29th March). After applying to the European Commission it would likely take some time for our application to be reviewed and any Listed status granted. As a result, the UK could officially become an ‘Unlisted third country’ on the 29th of March, resulting in significant extra requirements for pet travel coming into play.

 

 

Requirements for Unlisted Third Countries

If the UK became an ‘Unlisted third country’, then current Pet Passports issued in the UK would no longer be valid for travel in the EU. Instead, the owner of dogs, cats and ferrets would need to satisfy several additional requirements to travel with their pets, as outlined below:

  • Pet owners would need to visit the vets 30 days after their pet’s rabies vaccination for a ‘rabies antibody titration test’ (a blood test to check that the animal’s immune system has responded to the vaccine).
  • The vet would need to send this blood sample off to an EU-approved laboratory for testing.
  • If the result was positive, the pet owner would then have to wait for 3 months from the date the blood sample was taken before they could travel with their pet.
  • Lastly, the pet owner would have to visit an Official Veterinarian (a vet with the relevant qualification to issue certain documents) no more than 10 days before travel, to obtain an Animal Health Certificate.
  • This certificate would be valid for 10 days from the date of issue for entry into the EU, and for 4 months of onward travel within the EU. It would also allow the pet to re-enter the UK until 4 months after it was issued.
  • On arrival in the EU, owners and their pets would need to enter through a designated ‘Travellers’ Point of Entry’, where they may be asked to provide proof of microchipping, rabies vaccination, their successful antibody test results, and their pet’s health certificate.
  • Pets that have previously had a successful antibody test would not need to repeat the blood test for each entry to the EU however, they would be required to obtain a new health certificate from a vet for each trip.

In practical terms, this will mean that pet owners wanting to travel to the EU with their pets will need to visit a vet at least 4 months before their scheduled travel date to get everything in order. The process will require extra health checks, extra paperwork, and additional costs associated with these.

 

In Conclusion

Overall there is no denying that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario could cause pet owners some extra inconvenience and cost if they wish to travel with their pets abroad. However, these problems are not insurmountable, and can be best managed by contacting your vet well in advance of any travel plans (at least 4 months!)

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that a ‘No deal’ Brexit seems unlikely at present. Instead, the government is negotiating a withdrawal agreement, and any agreement reached would likely put measures in place to prevent these problems where possible.

 

 

Meet the Author

James Henderson

James graduated Cambridge University and went straight into general practice as a small animal vet. James always had a keen interest and passion for nutrition and its role in the treatment of disease in small animals.

In his spare time James enjoys travelling, playing rugby, reading and spending time with his cat.